German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Module 4: Conservation governance and policy

Biodiversity and ecosystems are typically common goods, and are hence critically affected by decisions - on natural resource use, land use, infrastructure development etc. - that are taken independently by a wide range of actors throughout society. Therefore, conservation leaders need to understand by which actors, through which institutional setups and according to which rules relevant decisions are taken and turned into policy. They also need to be aware of how these structures and processes can be influenced to maximize conservation benefits.

In order to develop this understanding and the corresponding skills, the module will address relevant governance structures and processes at the local, national and global level. Current developments in the roles of various key actors including civil society will also be addressed, and the issue of corruption and its relevance for natural resource management and conservation will be dealt with.

With regard to the local level, innovative participatory governance frameworks to support sustainable natural resources management will be introduced, and their potential applicability to their region discussed by the fellows. Current trends in national conservation governance and policy will be examined through the lens of current policy and legal reform processes in the region.

An important driver of national policy development of high interest to countries of the programme region are Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). This international governance framework for biodiversity and particularly the CBD with its structure, function, national implementation and relationships with other MEAs will be explained and discussed. This will include a critical appraisal of the challenges that the global environmental governance framework is currently facing.

The module will also comprise a negotiation training. Additional time will be devoted to a final presentation on the outcomes of transfer projects, an outlook towards alumni activities, and a closing ceremony.

During the fourth module participants have the opportunity to

  • Explore the relevance of governance and policy to the practice of biodiversity conservation and natural resources management at the local, national and international level.
  • Understand key concepts on biodiversity governance, as well as criteria of good governance and ways to achieve it.
  • Learn about actors, rules and institutions in biodiversity governance and policy at each level.
  • Address the role of civil society in biodiversity governance.
  • Collect information about MEAs and critically appreciate the international governance framework on biodiversity and natural resources.
  • Practice multilateral negotiations and decision making on shared resources during a simulation game.

Technical training areas

  • Conservation and natural resources governance at the local level.
  • Legal reform, decentralization, participation and user-based conservation as approaches to national conservation governance.
  • The role of NGOs and Academia in the governance of ecosystems and biodiversity.
  • Biodiversity-related MEAs and their national implementation, with a particular focus on the Convention on Biological Diversity and its relationships with other MEAs.

Management training areas

  • Negotiation strategy, skills and practice, based on a general introduction and a simulation game on a multilateral conflict scenario about water and nature conservation.


The main excursion during Module 3 will take the fellows to national and international institutions involved in conservation governance that are based in Bonn. At the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), as a national institution at the interface of science and policy, fellows will learn about its multifaceted support functions in national, European and global policy development and implementation. The particular importance of legal frameworks for conservation and natural resources governance will be discussed at the Environmental Law Centre of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. A visit to the Secretariat of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) will introduce a key institution in global biodiversity governance.

Logo of the Klaus-Toepfer-Fellowship-Programme